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Puttering around yields better mental health


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POSTED: Monday, October 26, 2009

Life can be hectic with so many things to do, places to go and people to see. It's tiring to always have the feeling that something needs to be done.

Here are three things I do that help to add some sanity and satisfaction to my life, and get things done, too!

1. Putter-around time in the morning:

There are days when I wake up and have to get out the door at daybreak, but I love those days when I have some extra time in the morning. Those are the days I wake up early enough to putter around for a bit before jumping into the day. The dictionary defines “;putter”; as to keep busy in a rather useless way.

For me, puttering around means wandering around and spontaneously doing what I feel like doing—those “;nice to do”; things—nothing on my to-do list.

Some days I might putter around and water my plants, or clear off the top of the night stand or straighten an area. Other days I just go outside and breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the sunrise. Having taken those minutes, I then get ready for the day.

Those “;nice to do”; things will differ for each person. A friend uses the calm morning time to journal the highlights of the previous day. Some might sit and leisurely sip a cup of coffee or just sit and reflect.

Often a putter-around time is possible only on weekends or in the evening. I think we all need such breathing spaces in our lives. If I were more disciplined, I would get up early enough every day to putter around!

A variation would be to arrive at work early to putter around and do those small “;nice to do”; things. Once the workday starts, it's time for “;need to do”; things.

Putter-around time is like an oasis of calm before the busy day begins, a relaxing way to start the day!

2. Midweek procrastination inventory:

Thursday morning is a good time to ask myself, Is there anything important I've been putting off this week? Often, there are put-off items on the inventory.

While we might not consciously put things off, with so much to do it's easy to get sidetracked and neglect some items. If they're important, there is still Thursday and Friday to do it.

I remember doing a procrastination inventory one Thursday and realized I had been putting off calling my brother in Seattle for some information I needed for my tax return. So, that Thursday I called him, and his reply was, “;It's a good thing you called me today, as I'm leaving for a weeklong golf trip tomorrow!”; I was glad I caught him in time. Tomorrow would have been too late.

Taking a midweek inventory helps to tie up loose ends and not carry over important items to the next week.

3. Catch-up day

When I look at the odds and ends of things on my desk, I see lots of little things that need to be completed.

When I tally up the time it would take to do them, I'm always amazed that the estimated total time may be just three or four hours. Three or four hours? That seems doable, and worth it to finally get them done. So, I've begun to designate “;catch-up days”; (or mornings or afternoons) to deal with them.

During catch-up time, I don't feel guilty or pressured to do other things, as my stated purpose for that time is to do those little catch-up items.

It's a good feeling to finally mail that form, make that phone call, call for that information, write that note, download my photos from my camera and get those assorted papers and reminders off my desk or computer.

What a relief to tie up those loose ends! I encourage you to putter around, take inventory and catch up. It will be time satisfyingly spent! See you in two weeks!

”;It's About Time,”; by professional organizer Ruth Wong, owner of Organization Plus, runs on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.